Rock ‘n’ Roll Rev plays electric guitar on doorstep for out-of-work musicians
Hampstead Parish Church vicar is running daily prayers and sermons online
21 April, 2020 — By Tom Foot
Rev Jeremy Fletcher: ‘Status Quo does it for me’
A ROCK and roll reverend wheeled out his electric guitar and donned dark glasses as he strummed ‘Ode to Joy’ in support of NHS staff and out-of-work musicians.
Hampstead Parish Church vicar Jeremy Fletcher played the Beethoven classic on his doorstep in Church Row, Hampstead, as part of a National Youth Orchestra event supporting musicians across the country.
Rev Fletcher said: “A badly played guitar is something that joins people together in a fun kind of way. It is like the badly drawn rainbows you see in the windows by children. They are the things that are really making a difference to people’s lives right now. It’s ordinary people doing ordinary things that will make the difference through all of this.”
Rev Fletcher has played bass guitar all his life and took the job at Hampstead Parish Church three years ago from Yorkshire, partly because of its choir of mainly professional musicians.
The church musicians normally perform regular lunchtime recitals, supper recitals in private houses, and organ recitals.
He added: “I’m a bass player normally – I grew up listening to 70s rock, and I used to play in bands in the late 70s. Status Quo does it for me. I like the kind of music that a classic wedding reception might have. If someone starts playing ‘Alright Now’ I’m there basically.”
“That guitar is a Fender Telecaster, not a Stratocaster … So more Bruce Springsteen or Francis Rossi from Status Quo, than Eric Clapton – it’s a deeply important difference. My guitar hero is Joe Bonamassa – he always wears shades. For me, a clerical shirt and shades always goes well I feel.”
The church is continuing to run daily prayers and sermons on Zoom, Facebook Live and has set up a Youtube channel for the first time. On Thursdays, during the NHS and carers clap, Rev Fletcher goes into the church and rings the main bell.
The church’s singers have each recorded themselves from home and the tracks had then been layered over one-other to create the sense of them singing together as a choir.
Rev Fletcher said: “This is the first time ever that the church has been banned from gathering together – even in secret. But we are still intensely busy. It is surprising how people got ‘techy’ very quickly.”
He said he had this week officiated at his first funeral service in Golders Green this week “for a lady of 98, not coronavirus”, adding: “It was strange because the most natural thing to do at a funeral is to embrace but we were not able to do that.”
He said it had been at unusual Easter as well, where his sermon was normally a straightforward “ba-boom!” message of hope and the Resurrection.
Looking to the future, post-coronavirus, he said: “I think it is interesting to think about what we will we miss from this period when we get back – the quality of looking out for each other. I hope we do not get back to just not seeing each other, and being concerned with just our individual lives.”
He added: “There is interesting research about how when there is something that we should all be anxious about, people get less anxious rather than more. I think right now we don’t need to test ourselves with the desire for gossip or a bad news story. Neither do we want escapism.”
On a personal level, Rev Fletcher said he had been disappointed to not be able to go to Wimbledon having scored tennis tickets for the first time in his life, and also a Pet Shops Boys concert at the 02 Centre which has also been cancelled.